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November 1995, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 8 Nov 1995 12:11:11 -0600
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Ron Hoffman comments:
"It seems to me that what we are dealing with is a tradition of the male
superhero which goes back to ancient times.  After all, is T100 really
any different from Achilles or Sigfried?  The male warrior is as old as
the hunter and the battlefield.  There is often a moral ambiguity to such
characters, but they often fight for the *good* be it country or cause.
In our culture, Superman, Spiderman, etc. are American equivalents of
this (shall I say *macho*) tradition.
By the way, in terms of the Terminator films, don't forget that
Terminator I was a bad guy, and I believe his transformation into the
good superhero had as much to do with Schwarzeneger wanting to be a good
guy as it did anything socially significant."
In practical terms, you're probably right about Schwarznegger, but consider
the new model Terminator in T2.  Instead of indestructible, metal alloy-framed
machismo, he(?) is androgyny writ large, morphing into any conceivable shape
or form (including female, if I remember right).  Even in his default form,
he is smaller, lither than his opponent, even--if you will--sexually ambiguous
by comparison.
If you're into dichotomous categories (and either you are or you aren't),
you might fit the two terminators into the two poles of destruction erected
in the horror film--Frankenstein (sic) and Dracula.  Frankenstein is mindless
muscle and rage, destruction-as-brutality.  Dracula is seductive, draining
life instead of crushing it.  The former is stereotypically male, the latter
androgynously sinister.  Each has his heirs in the horror genre--The Thing
vs. The Body Snatchers, for example.  I overgeneralize, of course, but that
what dichotomies are all about.
Don Larsson, Mankato State U (MN)
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